[ 929CACSCCSK20 ] KS Concepts and Comparisons in Social Policy Research

Es ist eine neuere Version 2023W dieser LV im Curriculum Master's programme Joint Master's Degree Programme in Comparative Social Policy and Welfare 2023W vorhanden.
Workload Education level Study areas Responsible person Hours per week Coordinating university
5 ECTS M1 - Master's programme 1. year Social Science Margitta Mätzke 2 hpw Johannes Kepler University Linz
Detailed information
Original study plan Master's programme Joint Master's Degree Programme in Comparative Social Policy and Welfare 2020W
Objectives Students understand how to substantiate theoretical arguments with reference to comparative empirical evidence and how to make empirical information about similarities and differences across place and time speak to theoretical claims. They read some of the major programmatic and conceptual statements about the major research paradigms of comparative welfare state analysis. Then examples the most important empirical approaches in the field are examined, exploring the conceptual and methodological decisions that lie beneath these particular forms of producing knowledge about welfare state development.
In doing so, the class develops an understanding of the quality criteria applicable to theoretically-oriented empirical studies in the field of comparative welfare state research. It also explores the different components research output in the field (such as: the literature review, the theoretical argument and its justification, commentary on research design and methodology, presentation of the empirical material, and the conclusions).
The goal is to strengthen students' ability to distinguish a persuasive theoretical argument from a weak one, strong empirical support from feeble descriptive illustration, and generalization with some claim to validity from random empirical observation.
Subject This class focuses on the crucial interface between theory-building and concept formation on the one hand and (comparative) empirical inquiry on the other. It addresses the following questions: What is the rationale of theory building, concept-formation and empirical inquiry in different variants of comparative resarch? How do comparative welfare state researchers produce theoretical and empirical knowledge about the various welfare states? How do they arrive at generalization about welfare state development, and, how do they make the conncection between theoretical arguments and empirical case studies? Major topics include:

  • Comparative analysis as a research programme: Its role in the study of social policy
  • Typologies: Identifying "regimes", "varieties", and "patterns" as major approach to cross-sectional comparison
  • The single case study as part of the comparative research programme
  • and research below the nation state: Comparisons across policy fields, regions, or instances of major social reform
  • Inter-temporal analysis as challenge to the comparison? Major concepts in the study of institutional change in the welfare state
  • Special Challenges in studying the role of ideas in social policy-making
Criteria for evaluation Combination of a set of smaller written assignments and active participation during the Intensive Programme and the distance learning phase; practice-exposé for a MA-Thesis.
Methods Class discussion and lectures during the Intensive Programme at the beginning of the semester introduce these themes; further readings and a set of smaller exercises during the semester offer more detailed insights and provide students with an opportunity to apply some of that conceptual knowledge in evaluating select examples of comparative social policy and trying to define and design their own projects. Students will read examples of the different kinds of comparative inquiry and interrogate the theory-empirics-interface in each of them.
Language English
Study material Readings are provided by the instructor.
Changing subject? No
On-site course
Maximum number of participants 30
Assignment procedure Assignment according to priority